Zolotow, Charlotte


Charlotte Zolotow & her sister Dorothy, Feb 2007, photo from official website

Charlotte Zolotow (R) and her sister Dorothy (L), February 2007

Charlotte Zolotow is the author of 90 books for children. She also worked professionally as a children’s book editor, editing hundreds of other books for children. Born Charlotte Gertrude Shapiro, on June 26, 1915, in Norfolk, Virginia, she was married for 33 years, and has 2 children, Crescent Dragonwagon (nee Ellen Zolotow) and Stephen Zolotow. (Thanks to Ms. Dragonwagon for permission to use the picture!)

Although she spent her professional career in New York, Zolotow lived in Madison, Wisconsin, when she went to college. She studied writing at UW-Madison, under Professor Helen C. White, from 1929 – 1933*. This time in Wisconsin was very meaningful to Zolotow, shaping her development as an author and an editor — at a time when not many women worked outside the home in such professional jobs.

Zolotow won numerous awards for her writing, including Caldecott Honor Book,  American Library Association Notable Book, New York Times Outstanding Children’s Book of the Year, Redbook Award, Carolyn W. Field Award, Spring Book Festival honor book by the New York Herald Tribune, and the Jeremiah Ludington Award.

In 1998, UW-Madison’s Cooperative Children’s Book Center created the annual Charlotte Zolotow Award, honoring an outstanding picture book for children.

Selected Work

William's Doll

Title: William’s Doll

Author: Zolotow, Charlotte

Illustrator: Pene du Bois, William

Publisher: HarperCollins

Year: 1972

Reading level: Ages 4-8

Format: Paperback
ISBN: 0064430677; 978-0064430678

Product Dimensions: 23cm x 18cm

MARC Record

William’s Doll is one of Zolotow’s best known works, both because of the many awards it won (New York Times Outstanding Children’s Book of the Year, Redbook Award, and ALA Notable Book), and also because it was adapted into a song as part of Marlo Thomas’s children’s musical Free to Be You and Me (1974). In this book, a young boy named William wishes he had a doll to love and care for, but his friends tease him, and his father tries to interest him in more traditionally masculine toys. His grandmother supports William and buys him a doll, explaining that playing with it will help him when he becomes a father someday.

Below, actor B.D. Wong sings the Marlo Thomas/Free to be You and Me version of “William Wants a Doll.”

Other Works

For a complete list of Zolotow’s books, check out the full list on her web site.  Here is a sample of her work over the decades, including some of her most famous works:

Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present. llustrated by Maurice Sendak. Harper, 1962.

The Storm Book. Illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham. Harper, 1952. Second edition: Illustrated by Ilse Plume. Harper, 1989.

A Father Like That. Illustrated by LeUyen Pham. HarperCollins, 2007.

The Hating Book. Illustrated by Ben Shecter. HarperCollins, 1989.

The Moon Was The Best. Illustrated by Tana Hoban. HarperCollins, 1993.

More Information

Charlotte Zolotow’s official website

Interview with Charlotte Zolotow

Charlotte Zolotow’s “Author” page at HarperCollins

* Zolotow’s web site says she studied at UW-Madison beginning in 1929. The UW CCBC web site says she studied there from 1933-1936.


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